W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > August 2002

Re: Serving generic XML (was: storing info in XSL-FO: new issue?)

From: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Date: 23 Aug 2002 11:40-0900
To: www-style@w3.org, www-talk@w3.org
Message-ID: <XML-accessibility-is-relative.2002-08-21@etan.wexler>

Kynn Bartlett wrote:

> [...] arbitrary XML is, to the UA, worse than simply plain text.
> It provides an unknown structure but the user -- especially the user with
> special needs -- likely has no way of making sense of that structure
> in any rational way.

This is a flawed argument.

Plain text on its own has very limited defined semantics (basically, the
aggregation of the semantics assigned to individual characters; transport
mechanisms may add locale information, such as language); the user is
left to derive meaning by reading the text.

XML of an unknown document type has some semantics.  Assuming that the
user agent recognizes none of the element types or attribute types with
which it deals, XML still carries an inherent semantics of hierarchy and
order: "this element contains these elements".  That's a basic semantics
which, while not the most useful, is possible to convey to the user.
What's more, XML documents have public APIs that permit the user or the
user agent to work with the data.

XML is certainly more accessible than, say, proprietary word processing
formats.  I hope that we can all agree on this point.

As Håkon has written, it's a question of stepping in the right
direction, moving from formats that are inaccessible to formats that are
more accessible.  From this perspective, XML of unknown document type has
its place.

Etan Wexler <mailto:ewexler@stickdog.com>
Commander in Chief, Dustin Diamond Liberation Front
Received on Friday, 23 August 2002 14:53:13 UTC

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